Using an ATM card in Canada

Jun 29th, 2004, 02:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Using an ATM card in Canada

Hello: We'll be vacationing in the Calgary/Banff/Jasper area in a couple of weeks (coming from the US). Rather than take travelers checks, our plan was to use our credit card to charge hotels, etc, bring some cash and exchange it for Canadian dollars at the Calgary airport, and then use an ATM card to access additional cash for miscellaneous expenses during our two week stay. In the US, my limit for cash withdrawl in a 24-hr period is $300. Can someone please tell me what the general limit is in Canada (although I understand that limit can vary from bank to bank)?
janesch is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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The amount that I've most often heard quoted is $500 per day. Hope this helps.
Vorkuta is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 03:32 PM
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Hello Janesch,

I think your idea of using a credit card for larger purchases is a good one. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards.

You don't need to exchange US cash for Canadian cash at the airport. Most vendors in Calgary and the Canadian Rockies accept American cash. They don't give you the most favourable exchange rate for your American cash. Still, in a pinch, American cash can buy you almost anything you need.

That said, your best bet is to get Canadian cash from an ATM right in Calgary Airport, even before you collect your rental car and head out of the airport complex.

I'm under the impression (but could be wrong about this) that your daily withdrawal limit is set by your own bank rather than the ATM machine from which you request cash.

Since each cash withdrawal from a foreign ATM typically incurs a transaction fee, it's probably a good idea to withdraw a fairly substantial amount of cash at once (say C$200 at least), rather than making many small cash withdrawals (of, say, C$20 each).

Since your home bank will exchange only Canadian notes and not Canadian coins, it's a good idea to try to use up your Canadian coins before you return home. Alternatively, if you think you may return to Canada, just stash away your Canadian coinage in readiness for your next trip.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 29th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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In Canada ATM charges are levied on any transaction using a card from another financial institution (foreign or not). For machines belonging to banks or trust companies this is typically $1.50, and it is added to your withdrawal--you take out $100, and the slip shows $101.50. The only way around this is if your bank has an agreement with a Canadian bank to allow its customers to use their ATMs without charge; and as far as I know the only such agreement is between Bank of America and the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank).

Check also to see if your own bank will tack on a fee if you use another bank's ATM.

On the other hand, traveller's cheques, as I recall, cost 1 cent per dollar and exchange rates can be less than favourable, so the ATM/credit card really is your best option.
Mairi is offline  
Jun 30th, 2004, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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We just got back Saturday from BC. Is your ATM card also a debt card? If it is everyone takes debt cards and it is easier than carring a lot of cash, and you will get the better exchange rate. You might also be able to ask your bank to up your daily ATM limit, I know that ours has done that in the past, especially if you tell them you are traveling. We also went to our local bank and got Canadian money before we left, they will give you a much better exchange rate then at the airport. We didn't try to use American money since we basically used our debt card. I hope this helps, have a great trip
spazkatt is offline  
Jun 30th, 2004, 09:42 AM
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Thank you everyone for your help! I appreciate your suggestions. My frustration has been with my bank in that they insist that they have no control over the amount I can take out daily from a Canadian bank using my ATM card. They keep telling me that I should contact Candadian banks and get them to tell me their limit! Anyway - we plan to use the ATM card for incidental cash. To keep transaction fees to a minimum, we will take out the maximum (whatever that is) at one time. Judy in Calgary - great suggestion to withdraw cash at the Calgary Airport (I read your posts all the time and you are so helpful). Again- thanks everyone.
janesch is offline  
Jun 30th, 2004, 10:24 AM
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Just a qualifier to Judy's comments that US$ are readily acceptable in Canada. That's true to a point but besides her mentioning that you likely won't get a fair exchange rate many Canadians feel mildly to strongly insulted by Americans who don't take the trouble to use Canadian money in Canada. Part of this extends from resentment of the fact that our money is rarely accepted in the States and part of it comes from a feeling that the hand proffering the US$ is somehow displaying smug superiority.

None of this is meant to imply that a bellman wouldn't rather get a $10 US bill as a tip than a $10 Canadian one - we're not stupid after all but the bottom line still is to use Canadian money while in Canada.
GaryA is offline  
Jun 30th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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GaryA is right - sad but true.
Vorkuta is offline  
Jul 1st, 2004, 02:15 PM
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We just returned from this same area last night. We had no trouble using credit cards for hotels, food and even things like tickets for the Jasper tramway, Banff cable car, park admissions pass, etc. If you do that, you certainly won't need any where close to $300 a day in cash! We did find it interesting that, in contrast to Europe where it seems like there's an ATM every half block, we had to go in search of them. Banks and credit unions have them and, if your bank is part of their network (Honor, Cirrus, etc.) I don't think they charge a fee. Even if they do, the exchange rate is better so it's worth it.
PVB is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 09:08 PM
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The limits on how much cash you can withdraw are determined by two factors:
1. the bank you are using and
2. your bank at home.

For example the Bank of Montreal in
Canmore limited me to $500.
The Scotia Bank ATM in Calgary let me have $800. I did not try again that day although a Bank of America agent told me that the limit for my BOA account was 1,500 US per day.

I had no trouble using any of my ATM cards at "real banks". I say that because some of the franchise machines not affiliated directly with a bank are sometimes Plus or Cirrus only -- one but not the other.

bob_brown is offline  
Jul 17th, 2004, 03:46 AM
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We just got back from the rockies.

I wanted to pay as much as I could using ATM cash because it is a better exchange rate( including fees) than my credit card.

My local bank has a $300 daily limit. Keep in mind that is a USD limit. I took out $360 CAD on a regular basis because it was less than $275 US.
Dick is offline  

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